FACT: Scientific evidence proves that playing in the mud actually makes you happier and healthier.
And while children can’t wait to dive into the stuff, regardless of what any doctor or scientist says, parents and educators should take heed, by seizing every opportunity to encourage mud play and reap from its many benefits!
So, when our Jimboomba Early Bird, Camdyn, and his dad, Campbell, offered to make us a Mud Kitchen, we were happy as pigs in MUD!
These incredibly generous and hard working blokes spent many of their weekends hammering and drilling wooden pallets together to create “Camdyn’s Mud Kitchen” for all his kindy friends.
We had lots of happy children and very excited teacher’s when we delivered the mud kitchen. So glad everyone loved it. We are super happy with the end result.” Campbell said.
Excited teachers is right! We at Jimboomba Education and Childcare were incredibly happy to receive this FUN addition to our outdoor play area which offers so much more than the chance to get messy.
Turns out, exposure to bacteria in soil (Mycobacterium Vaccae), stimulates the immune system, causing all sorts of positive physical and emotional reactions which greatly benefit children’s learning and development.
We highlighted a few of the many, here:
Not only is there increased evidence that mud supports a healthy immune system, but there’s also evidence which shows that today’s society is “too clean”, creating environments which do not encourage immune system development and contribute to increased levels of childhood illnesses, including immune disorders and allergies.
Mud play naturally boosts children’s immune systems, increasing their physcial strength and wellbeing, reducing allergies and asthma symptoms and making it easier to fight harmful greebies.
If the immune boosting bacteria isn’t enough to convince you, the physical activity involved in outdoor mud play surely will!
While simply jumping into a pile of mud has its own benefits, the endless range of activities and actions available from a more structured set up, like a mud kitchen, leads to a further connection with nature, setting children up to appreciate their outdoor environment and be more likely to participate in healthy, physical activity in the future.
On a more micro level, mud kitchens also encourage the development of motor skills, sensory awareness, balance and coordination. This development happens as children use pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils to pour, mix, stir, fill, empty, mould, and whisk the mud.
Building all of these milestone developments are key to setting the foundations for happy, healthy learners! After all, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind!
Mental & Emotional Wellbeing
We should point out, that from our many years of experience as early childhood educators, we know that doing anything outdoors makes children happier, more content and more relaxed. So, it’s no surprise that a stuctured outdoor play area, such as our mud kitchen offers an enjoyable, safe space to explore in the fresh air.
However, it’s specifically the MUD which increases mud kitchens’ value, and no, it’s not just because it’s fun. Interestingly, as a result of improved immune systems due to exposure to friendly soil bacteria, children’s brains are better able to release serotonin, the endorphin used to regulate mood.
When the brain releases seratonin, we feel happy. When the brain releases seratonin more regularly, we’re happier more often, with reduced levels of anxiety and stress. Regular occuring experiences which encourage the release of seratonin, enables people to better cope with life’s challenges and recover more quickly from painful experiences.
This means, the happiness that children feel from playing in the mud enables them to function at a more stable and positive level. They have a better chance for increased confidence and strengthened attitudes towards adventure, making it easier to jump into new experiences and be more open to challenges.
This brave dispostion intills more confident and involved learning from individuals who are happier within themselves.
Foundation for Early Learning Skills
Further to the development of important learning skills, mud kitchens provide the chance to role play, collaborate, problem solve, communicate, and connect with their community.
As we previously pointed out, mud kitchens are something different to just a pile of mud. They provide children with a shared space, intended to develop and extend learning skills on purpose, with a purpose.
Whether it’s performing an imaginary cooking session, or running a make-believe restaurant, group role play activities encourage children to practice their social skills and help make sense of their world, make sense of eachother, and of themselves.
Mud kitchens provide scenarios where children are able to transfer and adapt what they’ve learned from one context to another, inspiring new ideas and concepts, as well as develop an understanding of what’s necessary for active community participation.
Creating these foundations early, set young children on the path to happy futures.
Development of Creativity & Imagination
Mud kitchens are also a great source to aid children’s creativity and technical skills.
While mud kitchens provide something more stuctured than a mud pile, playing in a mud kitchen is still open-ended by nature, which is perfect for experimenting, exploring, and developing early maths skills.
There is no end to the creations, ideas and games children will invent during this type of outdoor play. While children enjoy filling their pots and pans with mud and whatever else they can find, at some point, they begin to create mental transformations, and pots of mud quickly become magical potions, delicious recipes, lovely perfumes and so on.
Not only do these actions instil early understanding of maths, but they encourage using the imagination, which further develops children’s abilities to form ideas, be creative, innovative, and think critically. Something which many adults struggle to grasp if not taught early on in their education.
For children, playing in the mud is intrinsically FUN. They don’t need to understand why it’s so important to their development. What’s important is that we provide the opportunities for them to do it and give them permission to get messy!
In the words of our Early Birds:
I like cooking stuff.” – Katelyn, Age 3
I love it!” – Cody, Age 4
A big THANK YOU to Camdyn and his family for building this awesome mud kitchen and donating it to our centre. We couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of such an involved and giving community 🙂
Yours in Education & Care,
The Early Birds Team